5 Steps to improve your photos

Sometimes it only takes a couple of steps to help improve your photography or cinematography. There are some key fundamentals that can really help enhance your skills and look of your work.  Disclaimer –  it’s not about what camera you’re using or how much or how expensive the equipment is, sometimes it’s more about analysing the methods you’re using to get the shot. We’ll be looking at 5 top tips that you need to start implementing that can dramatically help improve your shots.

This is my best side

What tends to happen when you first dive into photography is you end up taking hundreds of photos of that one particular subject, hoping to get the best picture in all the angles you can humanly pull off.

All you really need to do is take a little time to think what is the most flattering angle for this shot, sort of like when you’re taking selfies. Depending on your subject’s dimensions, you should look at the height and width of the shot. Typically, items look better at waist height or slightly higher, but again it all depends on the dimensions and sometimes the surrounding.

Composition

This is where the composition comes into play. Thinking about where the subject, (background and/or foreground) sits in the frame is key to getting the best out of the shot. This can be known as getting a balanced shot, one of the most common ways of getting a good balanced shot is by following ‘The Rule of Thirds’. The basic principles of the rule are as follows:

  • Split the frame into thirds both horizontally and vertically so that you have 9 parts
  • The vertical and horizontal lines should be used as your guide to place the subject or points of interest
  • Portraits: focus on the vertical lines
  • Landscapes: focus on the horizontal lines

However, not following the rule of thirds doesn’t mean that you’re images will not be balanced, but it is a great place to start when thinking about composition.

Foreground is powerful

Everyone is so focused on getting the shot with the perfect background, but sometimes what’s in front of the subject can be more powerful that what’s behind it. Shooting through or past something can actually put more focus on the subject than just having a blurred background. Yes , we all love bokeh, but bokeh isn’t just for the background, it can be used for the foreground to give you really nice out of focus elements right at the beginning of the shot.

I’m different, yeah I’m different

Majority of the time you’ll find yourself taking the same picture as everybody else, so how do you go around that? How do you make your shot THE shot and not just a shot? Think differently…i.e. if you’re taking a picture of some shoes, try to think about what is the most common way this picture will be taken, and then do the opposite.  This will make sure that your shots are not just ordinary, but have the potential to be extraordinary.

Lighting

Lighting on its own deserves its own article but the basics can help transform a ‘meh’ shot to a ‘WOW’ shot. Lighting can be very daunting, but the best thing to understand is making sure the subject is exposed properly and evenly, and the lighting is soft. Shooting near a window, where you get natural light, is the best place to start, and to get soft lighting; light bounces, bounce the light onto the subject. Shining light directly onto a subject will give harsh shadows and high contrast, unless this is the look you’re going for, these sharp shadows are a no-go. A good rule of thumb – shoot on cloudy days to get that natural soft light.

Think about it

If you haven’t noticed, there was a theme going through these tips which was think about what you’re shooting and how you’re shooting it. Taking a couple of seconds to think about the angle, the composition, lighting etc can really enhance your shots.

Like all art-forms it’s a skill and skill needs practice, so go out there and start shooting.